Have you ever wondered, “how did Pigeon Forge get its name”? The story behind our city’s unusual appellation is definitely worth hearing! Amazing Views Cabin Rentals did a little research to bring you the history of the name “Pigeon Forge”.
The Iron Forge
The story of Pigeon Forge’s name begins 200 years ago. In 1817, local businessman Isaac Love established an iron forge beside a river in the Smoky Mountain area. An iron forge seemed like a good investment during this time period, because the state of Tennessee was offering tax incentives for the development of unfarmable land.
Isaac Love built his iron forge upon a plot of land that he inherited from his father-in-law, Mordecai Lewis, a pioneer who was granted 151-acres by Governor Blount in 1807. Isaac also purchased an additional 7,000 acres of land, where he set up a mining operation to extract brown hematite ore from the ground. The ore was brought to the forge by ox-drawn wagon and smelt into pig iron in a furnace. Finally, the pig iron was molded using a 500-pound trip hammer, which was powered by the river. Products produced at the forge included bars of iron, building equipment, and farming implements.
In 1830, Isaac Love and his sons constructed a grist mill beside the iron forge. This mill became a hugely important asset to the local community, as it allowed farmers to grind their grain into flour. This grist mill, popularly known as “The Old Mill”, continues to operate to this day and attracts over one million annual visitors.
(See Also: The Top 5 Pigeon Forge Points of Interest)
The Pigeon River
The iron forge and The Old Mill were both located along the Little Pigeon River. This river takes its name from the passenger pigeon, a species of bird that was once very common in the Smoky Mountain region.
Passenger pigeons were killed and eaten by the Native Americans, and this hunting accelerated when Euro-Americans arrived in the area. A combination of overhunting and loss of habitat drove the passenger pigeon to extinction at the turn of the 20th century.
Pigeon Forge Gets a Post Office
In the spring of 1841, Isaac Love’s son William established the area’s first post office at The Old Mill. Now that this Smoky Mountain community had its own mail route, it was going to need an official name. Drawing inspiration from the iron forge on the Pigeon river, the city took the name “Pigeon Forge”.
The Old Mill Square Today
Although it helped give Pigeon Forge its name, Isaac Love’s iron forge did not stand the test of time. When it failed to turn a profit, Isaac Love sold the forge in 1841 to Alexander Preston. The forge would be sold a few more times before it was dismantled in the 1880s.
While the iron forge may be gone, The Old Mill remains one of the most popular destinations in Pigeon Forge. In fact, The Old Mill is the most photographed mill in the United States! The Old Mill Square is home to a number of wonderful shops and restaurants that make use of the freshly ground products from the grist mill.
Where to Stay in Pigeon Forge
Now that you know the answer to the question “how did Pigeon Forge get its name”, it’s time to start planning your next vacation in the Smokies! Amazing Views Cabin Rentals offers an incredible selection of properties in Pigeon Forge. With everything from 1 bedroom cabins to 12 bedroom cabins, we are guaranteed to have the perfect accommodations for your getaway. Browse all of our Pigeon Forge cabin rentals to find your ideal home away from home in the mountains!